How well does dermabrasion work?
Dermabrasion can help to treat damage that already exists. It cannot prevent future sun damage or even the formation of new lines and wrinkles. Results of a treatment procedure are also not a permanent solution to various skin issues.
Your lifestyle habits will also have an effect on results, both in the short-term and long-term. Those with the habit of spending limited (and protected) time in the sunshine, especially those are a fairer in complexion, tend to experience better and longer lasting results. Those with darker complexions may not experience the best long-term results, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Dermabrasion is also not really effective for the treatment of deep wrinkles. It can however, be quite effective for fine lines, especially around the mouth and eyes.
On the plus side, what can dermabrasion treatment achieve?
- A smoother, more even skin texture.
- Scarred skin can become more uniform in appearance.
- The skin surface around acne scars can be improved or ‘nearly flattened’ (deeper acne scars may require multiple types of resurfacing treatments such as excision, punch grafting or elevation).
- Results for surgical or injury-related scars are best when dermabrasion treatments are done between 8 and 13 weeks after the injury or surgery took place.
- Improvement of pigment or colour changes on the skin (especially when bleaching agents and Retin-A) are used.
Are there any risks or complications associated with dermabrasion?
There are some short-term risks which will be discussed with you before opting to have a dermabrasion treatment.
The most common factors to consider include:
- Swelling and inflammation (sensitive and red skin)
- Colour changes of the skin, known as hyperpigmentation (the treated area may darken during the healing period). Hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin or blotches) may also occur.
- The skin may become more sensitive to sunlight
- If prone to acne, flare-ups may occur (sometimes tiny milia or cysts can also occur)
- Bleeding of the skin
- Enlarged pores in the skin (this is usually temporary and resolves through healing when swelling decreases)
Less common risks include:
- Potential scarring or the development of keloids (deeper abrasions being treated are at higher risk of scarring after treatment as deeper layers of skin may require treatment).
- Lasting inflammation (redness) of the treated area.
- Damage to tissue if an excessive amount of freezing (cryogenic) spray is used during the treatment.
- Long-term colour loss (darker complexions are at higher risk of this).
- Infection of the treated area (bacterial, viral or fungal).
- Allergic reactions to anaesthetic
- Loss of freckles
Microdermabrasion vs Dermabrasion – what is the difference?
For a microdermabrasion treatment procedure, a dermatologist (skin specialist) makes use of tiny exfoliating crystals on the skin (much like an exfoliating and skin rejuvenating treatment). These are often sprayed onto the skin to treat problems such as brown spots or patches, age spots or dull skin.
The crystals gently remove the outer layer of skin, but this is much less abrasive than dermabrasion. This means that no numbing medications need be applied in order to perform the procedure.
This treatment option in contrast to a dermabrasion procedure results in more subtle changes to the skin. Unlike the initial brush-burn effect of dermabrasion, the skin appears a little inflamed, but renewed, softer and brighter following a treatment. Skin may feel a little tight or dry (much like sunburn or windburn).
Scarring, wrinkle lines or deep acne scars are not suitable for a microdermabrasion treatment at all.
Anaesthetic is also not required for the treatment procedure, as is necessary for a dermabrasion session.
The nature of treatment does not result in the need for as much downtime as with a dermabrasion procedure. The treatment does result in some inflammation to the skin (redness), but it doesn’t last as long and usually begins to fade within 24 hours following a treatment.
Care for the skin is similar in that sun exposure should be limited and skin protected during the healing period. During this time, moisturiser can be applied but some types of make-up should not be used. The most common side-effect, other than minor inflammation is a little irritation which can happen in the eyes if not sufficiently protected during the treatment.
Do medical health insurance providers cover the cost of a dermabrasion procedure?
Dermabrasion is mostly done for cosmetic purposes and thus is not normally covered by most medical health insurance providers.